Presumption of Death Act 2013 Update – Missing Persons

The Presumption of Death Act 2013 was due to be introduced this Spring but the Government has just announced that there is going to be a further delay.

The delay is due to the fact that the work required to amend rules of court and all the necessary regulations and associated procedures has not yet been completed in time for the scheduled commencement of the Act which was to have been in April 2014.

The Presumption of Death Act 2013 will enable applications to be made to the High Court for a declaration that a person is presumed dead if they have been missing for a period of at least 7 years and there is no evidence of them being alive.

It is now being proposed that the Act will become effective on 1st October 2014 instead; although this is not definite. There will be a further announcement from the Government on what the date is to be, in Summer 2014. This is particularly disappointing and frustrating for those families caught in the procedural limbo which follows when a member of their family disappears without trace and who need to be able to use the new legislation to bring a conclusion of sorts to their predicament.

However, the Government also announced at the same time that the Ministry of Justice is publishing a consultation paper on creating a new role of guardian which will give legal status to anyone who is appointed to manage the property and affairs of a missing person. The consultation paper is due to be published later in 2014.